“Empower” (Downset)

“Empower” scream hemmed in by slabs of silence: the moment of Butlerian agency that occurs in a loophole/hitch, unanticipated by power. An attempt to “recheck the mind set”–not castigation–without recourse to affect (“can’t give up no love”) or investment in nationalisms (“what’s been dead”). Less a plan than a documentary moment: potential(ity) battles “slips,” faith in representation, and martyrdom.


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“Computer Age (Push the Button)” (Newcleus)

As Newcleus enters the world in 1984, it seems as if they’re hostile to technology while depending on it for the production of their music. From a galaxy where “music and dancing are against all cosmic and computer law,” they discover a “place where they could be themselves: a place like Earth.” The simile is where it’s at: to be one’s self is to inhabit a not-Earth which is apprehended through a (receding) earthly experience. Against dominative “programmed” rationality, then, is the trax’s primary position. (Secondarily, there’s a concern that computers are taking the place of the “Lord” in our lives; this probably should be bracketed for now, since such “programs” are virtually indistinguishable.) Losing the ability to “program my machine” is the first step in losing a form of control over one’s life. And it’s this point that reveals one of the trax’s most promising aims. Much like Detroit Techno’s repurposing of pre-configured hardware and software, we’re at the precipice of an alternate practice: deprogramming traditional notions of programming by a continuing commitment to reprogramming. In contemporary parlance: jailbreaking the “walled garden” brick by strategic brick.


“Computer Age (Push the Button)” (Newcleus)

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“The Big Payback” (EPMD)

Rapping’s not a “tribe,” but even if it was, it wouldn’t be “fancy” or adorned with the lust to enforce tribalisms. Impossible, but it’s the strategic maneuver that allows for agency: claiming minimal racial identity instead of having a “Romi-et-oh or Juliette romance story” over it. “No stunts,” “sorrow,” or “pity.”


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